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Overdose Epidemic: Statistics & Prevention Strategy

The evolving opioid overdose epidemic affects all aspects of public and personal health. Learn more about dangers and treatment options here.

The Dangers of Drug Overdose

An overdose occurs when dangerous substances reach toxic levels within the body. It is possible to overdose on many substances, including opioids, alcohol, and other drugs. Usually, overdose happens very quickly. For example, in some cases, opioid overdose can occur immediately after using an opioid. A person does not have to be addicted to opioids or use them frequently to overdose. In addition, the symptoms of an overdose do not necessarily present in a specific order, so opioid overdose may look different from person to person. It is vital to know what the potential signs of an overdose may be as it may help save someone’s life.

Overdose Epidemic

When someone overdoses on a drug, too much of the substance reaches their brain and overwhelms its natural function. It can lead to the inability to breathe or struggles with other life-sustaining body functions. When someone’s breathing stops or slows to dangerous levels (as happens during an overdose), it can cause brain damage or death. Thus, the ability to recognize the symptoms of an opioid overdose is vital to preventing death or permanent brain injury.

Overdose Epidemic Statistics

Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate the opioid overdose epidemic is far from over.1
  • The number of opioid overdose deaths connected to opioid drugs of all kinds increased by almost 5% between 2018 and 2019 and quadrupled between 1999 and 2019.
  • Of the nearly 71,000 deaths in 2019, a staggering 70% involved an opioid drug.
  • Between 2018 and 2019, the number of opioid-involved deaths increased by more than 6%.
These statistics include any opioid, including natural, synthetic, and semi-synthetic opioids.

The Impact of the Opioid Epidemic

The epidemic of overdose deaths also rose among synthetic opioids. This category of opioid drugs includes the powerful and very dangerous drug fentanyl. Across the nation, the number of synthetic opioid (primarily fentanyl) deaths between 2019 and 2020 rose by 56,516 overdose deaths. The number of deaths caused by prescription opioids decreased from 17,029 in 2017 to 14,139 in 2019 but unfortunately increased in 2020 to 16,416. Lastly, the number of heroin-related deaths decreased, from 15,469 deaths in 2016 to 13,165 in 2020.2 While the deaths related to heroin have declined, other opioid-involved deaths continue to rise. Therefore, helping those affected by the opioid crisis is vital.

San Diego Detox Strategy for Combating the Overdose Epidemic

At San Diego Detox, we understand that combating the overdose crisis takes time and effort. Our strategy for combating this epidemic includes several crucial steps.

Medication for Overdoses

The first step is ensuring those who need it have access to lifesaving naloxone treatment. Naloxone is an FDA-approved medication that can rapidly reverse opioid overdose. As an opioid agonist, it attaches to the opioid receptors in the brain, preventing opioids from doing so and reducing the effects of opioid drugs. Research released in 2019 suggests that naloxone devices approved by the FDA deliver higher blood levels of naloxone than improvised nasal devices. Anyone can use naloxone to help prevent detrimental opioid overdose outcomes, making it an ideal and preferred medication.3

Harm Reduction

Another part of our strategy is harm reduction. Harm reduction is the process of providing help and support to those with opioid use disorder without stigma, discrimination, or judgment. This strategy helps reduce the fear and apprehension felt by many when they consider going to a drug treatment program. The rate of deaths caused by drug overdose has increased by 250% since 1999. Thus, it is imperative to utilize harm reduction strategies to prevent drug use, overdose, and death.4

Learn More About San Diego Detox

At our facility, we provide comprehensive and evidence-based treatments and educational therapies. Incorporating trusted and proven therapeutic models into our programs offers the most significant opportunities for effective treatment outcomes. Each therapy model addresses addiction treatment in a slightly different way. We ensure every individual situation and need is met with proper care and support by providing many treatment options. Addiction is a disease unique to the person, and with our several educational therapy models, we can effectively support our patients. If you or a loved one struggles with opioid addiction, don’t wait another day to begin the journey towards freedom. Let San Diego Detox help you overcome addiction at our safe, supportive California rehab center. Call us today for more information about our programs.

Overdose Epidemic Prevention Strategy

The opioid epidemic in the United States has not been resolved; however, it does continue to change. As organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) release annual opioid epidemic statistics and overdose death data, we can see that the specific substances that contribute to overdose deaths vary from year to year. This indicates that despite all the work done at state and national levels, there is far more to do before we will see an end to the opioid crisis in America.

Steps for Prevention

There are several steps both state and federal agencies can take to help reduce the impact of the overdose epidemic. Public Awareness A first step is increasing public awareness about the dangers of opioid drugs. Teaching people about addiction overdose awareness may help reduce the rate of overdose death. In addition, by providing accessible public education about addiction and addiction treatment, we can begin the process of defeating the overdose epidemic by reducing the misunderstandings and stigma that continue to surround addiction and addiction treatment. As the viewpoint around addiction changes, those who struggle with addiction will feel safer seeking help to overcome addiction. Support Healthcare Providers and Systems Another essential step towards overdose epidemic prevention is providing support to healthcare providers and systems. The overdose crisis will not improve without access to emergency medical intervention and ongoing medical treatment. New Substance Use Disorder Treatment Options Related to increased support in healthcare is developing new treatment options to address substance use disorders. It is essential for the public and the medical community alike to learn more about the disease of addiction and how it affects individuals and their loved ones. Advancing research and developing safe, effective, and non-addictive addiction treatment strategies are vital to reducing opioid epidemic deaths. As treatments develop and advance, the path to recovery from addiction will also improve.